While “inbound marketing” has been a common term around our office for years, it’s surprising how many companies we speak with who still have no idea what it is. And so, for those “laggards” out there (we love you guys), please consider this overview a friendly little kick in the pants. 🙂
The shift away from interruption
Marketing used to be somewhat simple. You would select an audience, develop a message, then broadcast your message to the selected audience. Today, this is commonly referred to as “interruption marketing.” People would receive your message (or miss it entirely) while in the midst of doing something other than looking for what you have to offer. Despite whether or not they’re in your target market, they may or may not be interested in what you have to offer, let alone be receptive to your message at the particular moment you happen to interrupt them.
What I want, when I want it
Although the interruption model is now outdated, many companies still cling to more traditional marketing tactics (e.g. TV, radio, print ads, etc.) because it’s what they’ve done for years and it feels relatively safe. But with the advent and rapid adoption of new technologies, consumers and businesses alike have shifted to a mindset of “what I want, when I want it.” Consider how PVR’s have changed television. Why be a slave to the TV schedule ever again? Or better yet, why watch commercials when you can forward right through them?
Power to the people
As it should be, the power of choice is in the hands of the people. Anyone can go online and find whatever they want, whenever they want it. They no longer need to be marketed to, and thus, are no longer receptive to being interrupted with marketing messages.
Enter inbound marketing…
In the new model, you must first understand that it’s far more effective when people find you on their own.
People have wants and needs, and they solve them by Googling stuff and buying things. It really is that simple and it applies to both B2B and B2C marketing. Whether it’s a CEO from Hong Kong looking for a strong consulting firm to help with her corporate culture, or a stay-at-home dad from Kansas looking for a new armchair online – people Google stuff and buy things. It’s how the world works.
Put some meat on those bones!
Websites, social media channels and all other internet constructs are merely just shells waiting to be filled with content. In the end, all the internet really does is provide: (1) the ability for computers (i.e. devices) to connect with each other; and (2) access to online content. Thus, the internet without content is like a chicken wing with no meat on it – completely useless.
Content is KING
In order for content to matter (in the eyes of search engines), it needs to be fresh and relevant. The key is developing content that your target audience finds valuable. Content that promotes your business and offerings is less valuable than content which addresses what your audience is actually searching for. By developing content that sits at the intersection between your audiences’ needs and your own expertise, you are opening the door for qualified leads to find you online (i.e. those people that actually want what you have to offer). And if they find your content engaging and helpful, they might just sign up to receive more. This then enables you to capture them in your CRM and continue communicating with them over time.
“Sounds great! But where do I start?”
Start by understanding your best customers. Understand their pain points and what they search for online. This understanding will enable you to produce great content that attracts more like-minded people.
You will likely need to consult an agency or specialist to help you get a strong content development and inbound marketing system up and running. This would include considerations for a CRM, marketing automation platform and content strategy. And while this does require a shift in thinking, it can be done effectively within a 6-12 month timeframe.
So, there is only one question that remains… What are you waiting for?
If you would like to chat about inbound marketing and what it can do for your business, please feel free to reach me at (204) 989-4323 or [email protected]